How common are traumatic experiences seen in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

FAQs about psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)

How common are traumatic experiences in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

History of traumatic experiences has been observed in a high percentage of PNES patients (ranging from 40 to 100%, according to different studies).

In adults with PNES, one quarter to three quarters of patients with PNES report a history of childhood physical or sexual abuse. Psychological trauma can also result from other experiences including childhood neglect, combat, witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime as an adult, suffering major accidents or natural disasters, significant medical/health issues, sudden loss of a loved one (e.g. a parent or a child), etc.

In children and adolescents with PNES, traumatic experiences can also occur prior to onset of PNES, although physical and sexual abuse occurs only in about 9-14% of patients (less frequent than adults). Pediatric patients often report traumatic experiences of bullying (up to 50%), family struggles including witnessing violence, and death or loss of a parents or caregiver.

Around 50% of patients with PNES carry a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although common, having a history of past traumatic experiences is not a requirement for the diagnosis of PNES. In fact, psychological trauma and PTSD can also be observed in persons with epilepsy.